Tuesday 12 December 2017

Bruce Arnold: Church and State colluded in this abuse-ridden society

Bruce Arnold

Tracey Fay's death has shifted public focus in the continuing and unbroken narrative of child abuse and neglect in Ireland. For the past decade, and before that, we have been able to blame the church. Now the blame has shifted, quite markedly, to the State. Her death, and that of many like her, is the result of the State's failure to set up and fund a proper care system.

It is an irony that the period during which this new abuse occurred has been a period of intense self-examination over how abuse happened from 1920 to the 1980s, carried out principally by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, and focused on the industrial schools. But with the change of focus we can no longer hide behind blaming the church.

We never could, of course. It was always the State that was responsible for the care of its children and let them down. But the State was effectively controlled by the church, and successive governments without exception obeyed unquestioningly the clerical direction that covered up chronic, persistent and damaging child abuse. It is a seamless story, as long as the Bible and as terrible in the accounts that come out of it -- of human dishonesty, evasion, and the avoidance of truth and basic goodness in helping children.

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